By now SNEWS® readers are probably familiar with the "BOB" Awards. But for those not in the know, here's a brief history of this popular award: Launched at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in 2003, the SNEWS® team wanted to show its appreciation for the planning and execution that goes into constructing a booth that is both functional and fabulous. By the way, BOB is an acronym for "Best of Booth," but also refers to our beloved SNEWS®'s founder, Bob Woodward.
If you've never had the opportunity to visit the show floor the night before opening day, you've missed an amazing sight: half-built booths, products littering the floor, hallway carpets waiting to be rolled out, pallets and crates blocking the aisles. Seems impossible that a show will emerge, but, within a few short hours, the booths get built, merchandised, lit and staffed. It's nothing short of a miracle. So to all exhibitors at Outdoor Retailer, we say congratulations on a great show and to your booth planning and building efforts.
Top BOB -- Teva/Deckers Outdoor Corp.
Some people loved it, others weren't so sure. Comments like -- "It's not outdoorsy." "It doesn't fit at the outdoor show." "It must have cost a bundle." -- could be heard in the aisles. The awarding of the Top Best-of-Booth award to Teva may be a bit controversial since it wasn't the traditional booth people have come to expect at Outdoor Retailer. But the great strength of this booth was its internal design and the way it worked for sales which, when you think about it, is the most important part of any trade show booth.
The booth entrance featured a towering arc framing the reception table. Inside, the roomy 600-square-feet sales area and four writing rooms were set up with three tables each. Behind the tables the entire line was displayed on the wall. This arrangement allowed three sales reps to show the line simultaneously resulting in an efficient use of space.
A lounge area was tucked under the second story conference room. It featured comfortable chairs, a couch and stools and low atmospheric lighting. Floor to ceiling cabinets held give-away footwear samples ready to be fitted to lucky recipients.
At the end of the booth, smaller writing desks and displays held licensed products, and in the far rear of the booth open to the aisle was the Zen Zone, a raised platform with pillows, flowers paying homage, no doubt, to feng shui. Along the booth perimeter, portholes displayed footwear.
The new booth was designed specifically for this show. Sure, it didn't have what has become to be known as an outdoors look, but it's time to recognize that the outdoor industry has become lifestyle oriented. Teva put a lot of time (and money) into its booth and came up with a design that attracts attention, sells product and is comfortable for work. That's why Teva is TOP BOB.
Fun BOB -- David & Goliath
Tucked away in one of the Salt Palace hallways, this small booth had 'em literally crawling on the floor. A purveyor of stickers, slogan tees, printed pajamas, cups and other doodads, the women staffing the booth settled on a merchandising ploy sure to attract attention. Throughout the day, they tossed handfuls of stickers on the floor in front of their booth. People were invited to help themselves and that's just what they did in droves. The staff also caused quite a stir by handing out free canvas bags stating, "Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them." It was all in good fun, hence the awarding of the Fun BOB to these clever folks.
Crazy BOB -- Peace Frogs
Who knew that frogs were the latest things? The guys at Peace Frogs made a splash with their frog-themed tees, loungewear, hats, boxers and stickers. For all you AT aficionados, there was the Hoppalachian Trail frog tee. Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters would have no trouble piling into the Peace Frogs day-glo VW bus used in the booth to set off the T-shirt display (doubling as a retail outlet on the road). A giant frog hovered over the booth providing an attention-getter. A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of Peace Frogs merchandise goes toward frog research. So lay off the frog leg appetizers. Frogs rule! Crazy, isn't it?
Most Improved BOB -- Kavu
Kavu has the dubious distinction of winning a SNEWS® Worst-of-Booth Award a couple of years back for the stealth design of its booth. From the outside, nothing could be seen but yards of unbleached muslin looking like those drapes used to fumigate buildings. But at this show, the booth opened up a bit and every 6 to 8 feet the drapes parted and the curious could actually see into the booth. Yeah, the drapes are still there, but the peep holes are a giant improvement, so to Kavu goes the Most Improved BOB Award with the hope that, at future shows, the drapes will part even farther or, with luck, they will disappear all together.
Mini BOB -- Travel Guitar
If you can take it to Everest, you can take it anywhere or so the song sort of goes. We're talking guitars -- travel guitars, which is this year's Mini BOB winner, Travel Guitars, made a big splash at the show. This small 10-by-10 Pavilion booth was simple and straightforward in its design. Travel guitars, stripped down guitars made from alder and maple, were showcased in two-tiered cubbyholes backed by corrugated metal and lighted from above. Photos of a climber cradling one of the guitars on the summit of Everest attested to their portability. Company owner J. Corey Oliver and his buddies staffed the booth and were quick to offer passer-bys the opportunity to jam. It just goes to show how 100 square feet of booth can offer big results.
Display BOB -- Benchmade Knives
People love knives. That's a fact. It's also true that knives are most always kept inside glass display cases. At retail that makes sense because of the shrinkage factor. But at a trade show, prospective buyers need to touch and feel the products. Yet almost every booth selling knives placed them out of reach in cases. That wasn't the case at Benchmade Knives. The booth was easy to spot because of the upright corner knife displays featuring strobe lights. The knife product line was arranged on slanted 4-foot freestanding displays by category and price. The display "platforms" were positioned on the angle in the booth so as not to create a block to entering. People felt comfortable approaching the displays to examine and handle the knives. SNEWS® kudos go to marketing manager, Joe Verbanac, the designer of the displays and winner of this year's Display BOB Award.
Almost BOB -- Ex Officio
There were some clever display features at the show that demand recognition. One of them was the airplane hanging above the Ex Officio booth drawing attention to its Buzz Off line. No tired banners for them, just one cool blue airplane. What a way to create a buzz!
Almost BOB -- Nemo Tents
This inflatable tent company did a great job of making its "inflatable" point by suspending tents from the ceiling of the booth. Merchandising them in the air reinforced the lightweight feature of the three-season tents and made for an interesting visual arrangement worth noting.
Almost BOB -- Arc'Teryx
Arc'Teryx is a past winner of a BOB Award for its excellence in product presentation. At this show we were impressed with its new hanging pack fixture. In this new system, a pack is attached to an aluminum frame that is, in turn, attached to the wall. A pivot point is built into the frame so customers can swing the pack away from the wall to examine the shoulder straps and back construction without having to lift the pack off the wall and replace it. This fixture is very cool and is a convenient way to keep packs from ending up in a pile on the floor.